Blogs > The Grapevine

Wine recommendations and comments from Dean and Lisa Foster, Vintage Connections Wine Educators and Consultants. Most wines are available in Southeastern Pennsylvania and are priced between $10 and $20. Up-coming "wine events" available in the Pottstown Tri-county area are listed.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wine Tips - Trapiche Pinot Noir and Shadow Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Cheers from Vintage Connections

Due to low enrollment, we canceled our March and April open enrollment wine classes.
We apologize to those of you who registered, only to have the classes canceled. 

For May, thanks to Brad and Christy at Pinnacle Ridge Winery, we're holding classes at the winery on
May 12, 13, 26 and 27. 

See next week's newsletter and blogs for more information about these up-coming classes.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter, register for up-coming wine appreciation classes, or talk with us about scheduling your own Home Schoolin' wine class, seminar, tasting, or event by emailing at or calling us at 610.310.9942.

Wine Tips of the Week

Trapiche Oak Cask Pinot Noir 2009

If you enjoy a good French Burgundy but want an everyday, affordable Pinot Noir, we think you'll like this Pinot Noir from Mendoza, Argentina.  It is light, clear ruby red in color with subtle aromas of black cherries with notes of toasted bread and vanilla which comes from nine months in French oak barrels.  This wine is well-balanced with a pleasant finish.  Alcohol is 13% by volume. 

The Trapiche Oak Cask Pinot Noir is available at most PA Wine and Spirit stores and is currently on sale for $10.99 per bottle.  Regular price is $11.99.  PLCB product code is 5439.  It's not French, but it's worth every penny of its LOW, LOW price.

Trapiche Winery is located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.  Grapes for this Oak Cask Pinot Noir are gathered from various vineyards at different elevations creating a more complex wine. 

Shadow Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007

This deliciously dry Cabernet Sauvginon is dark red in color with aromas of black fruits and mocha with just a hint of licorice.  Flavors of blackberries and black cherries with balanced acidity make this an excellent wine to enjoy with a juicy steak from the grill. 

Available only at the winery, located just outside of Hamptonville, NC in the Yadkin Valley, for $29 a bottle.  We know this is more than we usually spend, but this excellent wine was well worth the price.  It may not be worth a separate drive to NC, but if you're passing nearby, we highly recommend it and sampling other wineries and wines from the Yadkin Valley.   Alcohol is 14.4% by volume. 

We planned on using this as an example of Cabernet Sauvignon for our Bordeaux Blending class.  Maybe next time...  

Up-coming Events

Wine and Food Pairing on the Berks County Wine Trail
April 16-17  

May Wine Classes
by Vintage Connections

Thursday, May 12, 6:30-9 PM  
Friday, May 13
1:30-4 PM 
Wine Appreciation Basis
Red and White

Thursday, May 26
6:30-9 PM 
Friday, May 27
1:30-4 PM 
Wine Appreciation Basics
What's in a Name? 

Fun Fallacy
Last week the Fun Fact was in error!  Thanks to Darv for setting us straight.  The term "table wine" in the USA (or anywhere that we could find) does NOT have a lower limit of 11% alcohol by volume.  We've had table wines with alcohol in the 6-7% range and should have known better.  The source for this error was a "fact" in a deck of wine-oriented playing cards.  Sorry about that. 

This Week's Fun Fact! 
The chemical Resveratrol, found in red grapes (and some other fruits) is believed by many to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.  This chemical is three to four times higher in Pinot Noir than in other varietals especially when grown in cooler climate. 
(Source - Professional Friends of Wine)  Hmmmm. Hope this is correct. 

Some of our Favorite Wine Links

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wine Tips - Sheldrake Point Gewurtz and White Springs Fume` Blanc

Cheers from Vintage Connections

This week we feature two excellent white wines from the Finger Lakes. 
Want to learn more about this wonderful wine region? 
Want to taste a few of our favorite wines? 
Join us for 

Thursday March 31 at 6:30 PM in Pottstown.
Registration is now open online.

Please register ASAP. 

Blog Changes!!!  

If you haven't checked out our OTHER blog, please give it a try at Vintage Connections Wine Info

last updated on March 20.
It's fun, interesting, and bit different (we think). 

Sheldrake Point Gewurtztraminer 2008

This full-bodied and fragrant Gewurtztraminer is pale yellow in color, but it's aroma and flavor is not remotely pale.  It has rich aromas of pear with floral notes, and delicious mouth filling flavors of pears, oranges and just a hint of tarragon.  It has only .5% residual sugar, so is pleasantly dry and not the least bit syrupy.  Alcohol is 13.3% by volume.

Sheldrake Point Winery is located on the shores of Cayuga Lake in the New York Finger Lakes region.  For the past two years, Sheldrake Point Winery was awarded "Winery of the Year" by "Wine and Spirits Magazine" and "New York Wine and Food Classic".  Definitely worth the stop if you are in the Finger Lakes.  Unfortunately, the 2008 Gewurtztraminer is no longer available, but we also highly recommend their Pinot Gris 2008 which is still available at the winery for $15 a bottle.  And who knows, maybe when you get there the 2009 Gewurtztraminer will be available.

White Springs Fume` Blanc 2009

This sauvignon blanc wine is pale yellow in color with hints of green.  It has soft aromas of  herbs and grass with a slight minerality.  It has refreshing flavors of citrus, smoke and vanilla with just a hint of coconut.  The wine was aged in small French oak barrels.  It has 0% residual sugar, making it a pleasant dry wine with a medium finish.  Alcohol is 12.5% by volume.  It is available at the winery for $14.99 a bottle.  White Springs Winery is located just south of Geneva, NY on Seneca Lake.

Fun Fact 
The term "table wine" in the US refers to a wine that has between 11-14% alcohol by volume.  In Europe it refers to the lowest quality wine rather than a wine designated with an appellation or regional designation.

Wines of the Finger Lakes - A Wine Appreciation Class by Vintage Connections

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is famous for Riesling but many of the 100+ wineries make other excellent wines as well including Chardonnay, Gerwertztraminer and Cabernet Franc. Join us to learn about, sample, discuss, and enjoy some Wines of the Finger Lakes, chosen by us on our wine adventure last October.  Registration is $35 per person.  Checks only and are appreciated at time of registration.  Click here for on-line registration through Monday March 28.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wine Tips - Manatawny Chardonnay and Giesen Sauvignon Blanc

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Please recommend this blog to others who may enjoy it.  

See our new and revised OTHER BLOG at Vintage Connections Wine Info.

Wine Tips of the Week

Manatawny Creek Winery Chardonnay 2008

This is a delicious and satisfying chardonnay.  It is light straw yellow in color with wonderful aromas of fruit and oak.  The flavor is buttery and toasty with flavors of apple and hints of vanilla.  (This is an older image of the label.  Sorry about that.) 

Many of you know that Manatawny Creek Winery is one of our favorite Pennsylvania wineries.  Their consistant dedication to quality wines makes this one of our "go to" wineries.  This Chardonnay demonstrates their quality.  All the grapes for this wine were grown in Berks County, PA.  Great when paired with crab (we know because that was our dinner pairing last night!)  Alcohol is 13% by volume and is available at the winery for $13.95 a bottle.

Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Yes, friends, another Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  But what can we say?  We happen to really like Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs.  Giesen is one of our favorites.   

We purchased a bottle of Giesen Sauvignon Blanc a few years ago in the south and fell in love with it.  Unfortunately it was then unavailable in PA.  Then, to our delight, we found it in a PA Wine and Spirit Store!  We quickly purchased a bottle, hoping that we still liked it as much as we had those years ago.  No problem, it was just a tasty as our first bottle.   

Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow in color with lots of fresh fruit aromas like grapefruit and lime and just a hint of minerals.  The flavor is crisp and refreshing with tropical fruits, herbs and a slight minerality.  It has a firm acidity that makes it possible to age for a short time.  Alcohol is 13% by volume and is available at most PA Wine and Spirit stores.  PLCB product code is 4987 and is on sale for $12.99 a bottle, regularly $15.99 a bottle.

Fun Fact
There are more than 400 varieties of oak trees but only about 20 are suitable for making oak wine barrels.  White oak is generally used  over red oak as red oak is too porous for wine barrels.


March and April are BUSY "wine months" 

Vintage Connections Spring Wine Classes 

March 24
Wine Blending Bordeaux Style

REGISTRATION CLOSES Sunday March 20 at Midnight.
More Vintage Connections Spring
Wine Classes

March 31
Wines of the Finger Lakes II

April 7
Surprising Wines Under $15

Date TBD  
(Change from April 14)
Gems from our Cellar

Each class is $35 per person.    

Buy a passport and visit any or all Lehigh Valley wineries every weekend in March.
Taste wine from the barrel!  If you've never tried it, now's your chance!  Every weekend in March

Wine and Food Pairing on the Berks County Wine Trail
April 16-17 

Call us at 610.469.6164
or email us to register for classes,  to schedule a wine class or wine event in your home, at your business, or for your organization, or to buy a gift certificate.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wine Tips - Chemin des Rouvieres 2007 and Cono Sur Pinot Noir

Cheers  from Vintage Connections
Dean and Lisa Foster, Wine Educators and Consultant
Changes to our other blog !!! 

We have changed our  Vintage Connections Wine Info blog to include different information than what we include in this blog and our weekly e-newsletter.

This blog and the e-newsletter are staying the same and often include identical information.

Please go to our Vintage Connections Wine Info blog and tell us what you think.  That blog now includes details about our up-coming classes and events, "What We've Been Drinking" (a more complete list of wines we have recently sampled and what we think of them - the good, the bad, and the in-between), and other information we think may be interesting to other wine lovers. 

Chemin des Rouvieres 2007 - Vacqueyras

This excellent dry red wine comes from the Rhone Valley of France.  It is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  It is deep ruby red in color with complex aromas of red currents cocoa and black fruits.  It has flavors of espresso and blackberries, with hints of strawberries and roses.   
This complex wine has a long and satisfying finish.  It has 14% alcohol by volume and is currently a Chairman's Select.  It can be found at many PA Wine and Spirit stores for $12.99 a bottle.  PLCB product cod is 30879.  We feel this is an excellent value for an excellent wine.  

Cono Sur Pinot Noir

This surprising dry red wine comes from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  It is bright ruby red in color with aromas of red berries and chocolate.  The flavors of this pinot noir closely follow the aromas.  It is medium-bodied with a pleasant finish.   

Alcohol is 14% by volume.  PLCB product code is 5476 and can be found at most PA Wine and Spirit stores for $9.99 a bottle. 

QUIZ ANSWERS, Quiz Winners, and Quiz Sponsors!!   
CONGRATULATIONS to Maureen and Joe Freed, who got all 10 answers correct.  They have chosen the $20 gift certificate from Pinnacle Ridge Winery.  Thanks to all who entered, and to our sponsors (listed with web links below). 
To see the correct answers, and for a list of links to our quiz sponsors, go to last week's blog.

Fun Fact:  Sagrantino de Montefalco is a dark red grape from Umbria Italy.  It was originally used to make sacramental (sangrantino) wine.  Its thick red skins produce huge amounts of tannins and contain the highest amount of the cancer fighting polyphenols of all known grape varieities.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wine Tips of the Week, Quiz Answers, and Change to our other Blog

Cheers from Vintage Connections
Dean and Lisa Foster, Wine Educators and Consultant

Please tell your friends and family about this blog and our other blog, Vintage Connections Wine Info.  

Changes to our Other Wine Blog!!

We are changing our other blog, Vintage Connections Wine Info, to include different information than what we include in our weekly wine e-newsletter and
this blog, the Grapevine.
Our weekly e-newsletter and the Grapevine are staying the same and often include identical information.

Vintage Connections Wine Info will now include details about our up-coming classes and events, and "What We've Been Drinking," a more complete list of wines we have recently sampled and what we think of them (the good, the bad, and the in-between).  

So, for more information about our up-coming classes (Blending Wine Bordeaux Style, Wines of the Finger Lakes Part II, Good Wines under $15, and "Gems from our Cellar) go to Vintage Connections Wine Info.

We may also rant on about wine books and other musings about wine that are too long for our newsletter or the Grapevine.  We'll also post Vintage Connections Wine Info on an irregular basis, sometimes several times in one week, and sometimes not for a couple of weeks.   

So, the good news is, there is more "Wine News" on the way, but the bad news is that you'll have to check the blog (or set-up a RSS or other feed) to know when we've posted new information in that blog (not this one).  

Wine Tips of the Week

Prejean Gewurtztraminer 2008    
This delicious semi-dry white wine comes from the Prejean Winery just outside of PenYan on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  It is light yellow in color and has fresh aromas of flowers and spices with flavors of peaches and apricots with just a hint of vanilla.  It has a pleasant finish that encourages "just another sip". 

The grapes are 100% estate grown. The juice was allowed to sit on the skins for 24 hours giving the wine its rich distinctive flavor.  It was then fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The winery was started by Elizabeth and Jim Prejean.  Elizabeth now runs the winery with the help of her son Tom and his wife Amy.  The winemaker is Jim Zimar.  Be sure to stop in and visit the winery if ever you make it to the Finger Lakes.  You will find a friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to introduce you to their wonderful wines.

Alcohol is 13% by volume and is available at the winery for $16.99 a bottle.  It is great when paired with spicy Asian food, or just to sit and sip on a sunny summer afternoon.  

Keuka Spring Pinot Noir 2008

This excellent  Pinot Noir comes from Keuka Spring Winery on Keuka Lake also just outside of Pen Yan in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  It is  rich garnet red in color and has aromas of fresh red berries.  It has a surprisingly rich flavor with hints of strawberries and cherries and just a touch of spice.  It has a medium pleasant finish.  It is surprising because of the short growing season in the Finger Lakes, pinot noirs aren't usually this rich in color and flavor.   
Keuka Spring Pinot Noir received 87 points from Wine Spectator,  "This is juicy and fresh, with ripe red and black cherry fruit layered with subtle spice notes. Shows more depth and polish than most Finger Lakes Pinots."
Alcohol is 12.3% by volume and is available at the winery for $18.99 a bottle.  Great when paired with roasted pork, chicken and ham.

And the winners are Maureen and Joe Freed.  They chose the $20 Gift Certificate from Pinnacle Ridge Winery.  Congratulations to Maureen and Joe!

Remember, "correct" answers are those included in our Fun Facts from the past few months.  Even if we're wrong, we're right!      

1. Name at least three of the grapes used in red Bordeaux. 
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere.      

2. What is the licensed name for Bordeaux-type blends produced in the USA?  Meritage

3. What are the "parent grapes" of Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc

4. What is the Syrah grape called (named) in AustraliaShiraz

5. Lemberger is also known as what grape or wine in Austria?  Blaufrankisch

6. Champagne or other sparkling wines go well with breakfast (according to some, including us) because the effervescence complements the soft texture of egg dishes.

7. The corkscrew was adapted from a French artillery device.

8.  Technically, only sparkling wines meeting strict criteria and from the Champagne district of France should be named "Champagne."  What is the "correct name" of sparkling wine from other regions of France?   (There are two other names in France, but we only mentioned one in our Fun Facts. That is the "correct" answer.)  Cremant

The other name is Mousseaux.  We don't think we mentioned this in our Fun Facts, but if we did and you gave this answer instead of Cremant, LET US KNOW the date of the Fun Fact when we mentioned Mousseaux.

9.Gewurtztraminer is a white wine, however the grapes themselves are what color?  (Remember, the "correct" answer is from our Fun Facts.)  pale rosy pink

10. The Pinot Noir grape cluster is a tightly packed cluster and very dark in color.  What (according to our Fun Facts) is the English translation of the name Pinot Noir?
Pine (Pinot) Black (Noir)
Thanks AGAIN to our Quiz Sponsors!!